The World Of The House By Oscar Wilde

1978 Words8 Pages
Wordplay is used extensively in all of Oscar Wilde’s plays, and perhaps never more so than in The Importance of Being Earnest, where every scene is peppered with double entendres, puns and aphorisms. The world of the play is a high parody of Victorian society at the time – it both follows the rules and doesn’t; norms are undermined through wordplay, and language is endlessly adaptable through puns and paradoxes. Sos Eltis notes of the characters in this play that “nothing stands in the way of their self-creation, for reality itself is infinitely adaptable.” Eltis argues that the characters in this play are able, through language, to create their own realities as well as adapting to one another’s. Characters who seem to exemplify Victorian…show more content…
His name was Ernest all along, after all, so to his own surprise as much as anyone else’s, it turns out that Jack was being honest throughout the play (about his name, that is – all other Bunburying aside). Wilde makes use of puns for a variety of reasons in this play. Some of his punning reveals something about the character speaking, for instance when Algernon speaks of his musical prowess at the beginning of the play: “As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte.” This is a play on the word “forte”, which means both “my strength” as well as being a musical term related to piano-playing. The pun ties into Eltis’s idea of the language of the play “adapting reality” – sentiment is indeed Algernon’s forte, as we see again and again throughout the play (more on this later). Algernon’s talent for sentiment outweighs any obligation he may feel for honesty. For Algernon, life is not about rules, and because of his adaptability he never has to take anything seriously. Another type of pun used by Wilde in the play is the double entendre, in this quote from Lady Bracknell a play on the word “terminus”: “Mr. Worthing, is Miss Cardew at all connected ... with any of the larger railway stations in London? I merely desire information.
Open Document